Sololearn was founded and is currently led by Yeva Hyusyan, who said that the impetus for the company came out of a previous project she worked on while working for Microsoft in Armenia, a startup accelerator.
One side effort to that was a coding bootcamp they put together to help upskill would-be entrepreneurs. The bootcamp took on a life of its own eventually, with tech companies in the country, and specifically the capital city, approaching Hyusyan to source interesting candidates for jobs, and soon after to take and train people in specific areas on behalf of the tech companies themselves. In the process, the accelerator started building tools that could be used outside of the classroom. Through all of that, Hyusyan said she realised that there was an opportunity in itself to focus just on this. And thus Sololearn was born.
“Everyone was critical about the idea of learning coding on a mobile screen, so we built a compiler a few years ago,” she said. “But believe me, the younger generation prefers to code on mobile. It’s as normal as a desktop. You’d be amazed at the thousands of lines of code they put together, all on a phone.”
The Duolingo-like approach to the curriculum further followed by the fact that there are no formal “teachers” but if people need help they can turn to others in the Sololearn community. Helpers are incentivized, Hyusyan said, “because they learn and they get recognition from the community.”
The potential audience is a massive one. “Billions will need to re-skill in the next 10 years,” Hyusyan said, with the implication being that Sololearn (and others like it) will take on that re-skilling role. “We think the era of institutional learning is over. No one institution, not even a consortium, could cope with that demand.”
With the company also seeing a lot of traction for learning in platform-specific languages, such as C# and Swift for Apple iOS, Kotlin for Android, and Go for Google cloud computing, it will be using the funding both to continue expanding into more languages, but also more learning tailored to specific job categories.